Phuket is Reopening to Overseas Tourists in October

But 14-day quarantines and multiple swab tests will be required for all international arrivals.

Photo: Arek Socha/Pixabay

Thailand’s most popular holiday island has been singled out for a pilot project that will allow some inbound travel to resume on October 1. According to the Bangkok Post, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said it was a gamble worth taking to help keep the country’s hard-hit tourism sector afloat. “There is a risk in the new tourism model, but if we don’t open there is a bigger risk for the economy.”

Phuket will become the first area to welcome international visitors under the Safe and Sealed scheme put forward by the Tourism and Sports Ministry. Should the plan prove successful, with no local transmission of the virus recorded in the initial phase, it could pave the way for a wider reopening by the end of the year. “Starting with the Phuket model, this tourism stimulus plan will expand and reflect in GDP when attracting more international tourists during high-season months,” Yuthasak added.

The trial period will target long-stay travelers from low-risk regions. International tourists must stay at least 30 days, of which the first 14 days must be spent at hotels participating in Thailand’s alternative state quarantine program. However, guests will not be confined only to their rooms; they will get to roam public areas of their chosen lodgings, and the Thai government plans to offer limited beach access as well. Last week, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the Tourism and Sports Minister, said setting aside a one- to two-kilometer stretch of a nearby beach area would allow visitors to step out of their hotels during the two-week quarantine period.

Travelers must register with the Foreign Ministry and fly directly into Phuket, which means transits in Bangkok will be off the table for now. Multiple PCR tests are a must under the Safe and Sealed plan, with visitors swabbed for the virus not just before travel but also on arrival in Phuket. A further swab test is mandatory after the 14-day quarantine, and after receiving a negative result, tourists will then be allowed to leave their hotel and explore the rest of the island. It will also be possible for travelers to visit other areas of Thailand, but first they must be cleared through another test in the third week of their stay.

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